Asthma UK warns one million people are at risk of a life threatening asthma attack

If you (or your child) aren't using your inhaler properly, you could be putting your life at risk, Asthma UK is warning.

Last month, a study found that young people in the UK are more likely to die from asthma than children in other European countries.

Now, Asthma UK have surveyed more than 10,000 people with asthma in the UK and discovered that 19 per cent aren’t going to their GP or asthma nurse to have their inhaler technique checked, which is a basic part of asthma care.

And, up to half of Brits with asthma aren’t using their inhalers correctly, according to researchers.

This means that the asthma medicine stays in the mouth or throat instead of getting into the lungs, where it is needed. This not only increases your risk of having a life-threatening asthma attack, but makes side effects like sore throats and oral thrush more likely.

Common mistakes include not preparing your inhaler properly (e.g. shaking it before use), not breathing in deeply enough and breathing too forcefully or not forcefully enough. Many people aren’t aware that their inhaler technique is incorrect, so it’s important to get it checked by an expert.

Child using inhaler

Credit: Voisin/Phanie/REX/Shutterstock

‘Inhalers are the bread-and-butter treatment for most people with asthma, so it’s really worrying that many people are not taking them properly, or getting their technique checked by their GP or asthma nurse,’ said Dr Andy Whittamore, who is Asthma UK’s Clinical Lead.

But shockingly, 9 in 10 healthcare professionals don’t know how to demonstrate correct inhaler technique. ‘With so many different types of inhaler which are all used in different ways, it can be difficult for patients and healthcare professionals to know the correct way to use them,’ Andy commented.

Responding to these concerns, Asthma UK has launched a suite of videos showing how to use more than 21 different inhalers, spacers and nasal sprays. Spacers are hollow chambers that attach to an inhaler, making it easier for the medicine to enter the lungs. They’re particularly useful for children with asthma.

‘Even a small tweak to how someone uses their inhaler could prevent them having a life-threatening attack,’ said Andy. ‘We’re urging people with asthma and healthcare professionals to watch Asthma UK’s videos so they feel confident in how people can use their inhalers to stay well.’